Warren Christopher, a key figure in peace efforts in Bosnia and the Mideast as U.S. secretary of state in the Clinton administration, has died, a spokeswoman for his law firm said Saturday. He was 85.
Christopher died at his home in Los Angeles late Friday of complications from bladder and kidney cancer, said Sonja Steptoe of the law firm O'Melveny & Myers, where Christopher was a senior partner.
A loyal Democrat and meticulous lawyer, Christopher also supervised the contested Florida recount for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, decided for George W. Bush.
As he prepared to step down in 1996 as secretary "for someone else to pick up the baton," he said in an interview he was pleased to have played a role in making the United States safer.
His proudest accomplishments, he told The Associated Press, included a role in promoting a ban on nuclear weapons tests and extension of curbs on proliferation of weapons technology. He also tried to promote peace in the Middle East, tirelessly travelling to the region. Christopher made some two dozen trips to Syria alone in a futile effort to promote a settlement with Israel.
He was more successful in the negotiations that produced a settlement in 1995 for Bosnia, ending a war among Muslims, Serbs and Croats that claimed 260,000 lives and drove another 1.8 million people from their homes.
Some critics said the administration had moved too slowly against the ethnic violence. Congressman Frank McCloskey, an Indiana Democrat, called for Christopher's resignation and virtually accused the administration of ignoring genocide against Bosnian Muslims. A handful of State Department officials resigned in protest.
Christopher also gave top priority to supporting reform in Russia and expanding U.S. economic ties to Asia.